By DIANE DIERKS
What is in your trashcan? A flashlight battery? A mercury thermometer? A can of oven cleaner? All these common household products can have devastating effects on the environment if not disposed of properly. The average Indiana household contains between 3 and 10 gallons of hazardous wastes, according to Indiana Institute on Recycling.
What options are available to Clay County residents to dispose of hazardous materials? Janet Reed, executive director of Solid Waste Management, says there are many alternatives for getting rid of potentially dangerous materials.
Solid Waste Management is a non-profit organization that serves Clay, Owen and Vigo counties. The group's mission is to provide recycling and disposal services to residents. The organization was founded 15 years ago as part of a state mandated requirement and is funded through a 25 cent per ton tipping fee collected at the Vigo County landfill.
Reed said the Solid Waste Management District has worked diligently to increase recycling in the tri-county area through community education programs, annual tox away days and special white goods events (for the disposal of large appliances).
Solid Waste Management has set up a recycling center at Wallace Brothers trash removal in Knightsville. The center is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. Anyone can bring recyclable paper, scrap metal, plastics and aluminum and steel cans to the center for disposal.
Brazil residents can take advantage of the curbside recycling service provided by the city. Residents can purchase a roll of orange tinted recycling bags for $5 at City Hall and then place the filled bags outside with other garbage for regularly scheduled pick-up.
There are several ways to reduce the need for recycling at home. "When you buy a new appliance, go ahead and pay the recycling fee to have the old appliance removed," said Reed. It is well worth the extra money. Appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners and dehumidifiers contain freon, which is very dangerous to the environment.
She also suggests checking with automotive stores regarding their policies on disposal of tires, car batteries and oil before making purchases and disposing of household batteries at designated collection sites. In Brazil, residents may drop off batteries at the Clay County courthouse, Sam's Hardware and Lynn's Pharmacy.
Even the smallest amounts of chemicals can poison the environment. According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, two mercury thermometers contain enough mercury to contaminate a 60-acre lake. Once in the lake, the mercury is converted into an even deadlier toxin known as methyl mercury that then seeps into the food supply through contaminated fish. Residents can obtain fish consumption advisories through their local health departments.
For more information about recycling and disposal of hazardous waste materials, contact Janet Reed of Clay-Owen-Vigo Solid Waste Management District at 443-0168.
Recycling and Conservation Tips
-Snip each circle of six-pack holders before disposing to prevent harm to wildlife.
-Use rags or sponges in the kitchen to wipe up spills.
-Water lawns and gardens during morning hours.
-Recycle newspapers (the average American consumes 120 pounds of newsprint annually).
-Turn off water while brushing your teeth.
-Clean oven spills with salt while still warm and use baking soda and water for tough spills.
-Sprinkle cat litter on grease spills in the garage and soak for a few hours before sweeping.
-Use traps instead of toxic poisons for mouse and rat control.
-Purchase less toxic brands of antifreeze.
-Keep drains clean with 1/4 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Flush with boiling water.
-Reduce incoming junk mail by up to 75 percent by writing to:
Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 11 West 42nd St., P.O. Box 3861, New York, NY 10163-3861.